Together the two countries consume 40% of the world’s coal and are responsible for 43% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
At the opening of the 2013 Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the countries announced an agreement to five “action initiatives” aimed at addressing climate change.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew hosted a Chinese delegation led by State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang at the talks that cover both economics and wider geopolitical issues.
The two-day meeting ends Thursday.
The US and China began collaborating on climate change plans in April with the formation of the Joint US-China Climate Change Working Group, which presented the five-point plan Wednesday.
The group identified five key “problem areas” that if targeted could dramatically reduce the countries’ contribution to global warming.
“Ambitious domestic and cooperative action by China and the United States is more critical than ever,” the US State Department said in an announcement.
The five initiatives are:
- Reducing emissions from heavy-duty and other vehicles. Heavy-duty vehicles are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in the US and account for more than half of the transportation fuel consumed in China
- Increasing carbon capture, utilization and storage on coal-fired power units. China and the US agreed to cooperate to overcome barriers to deploying CCUS by implementing several large-scale integrated CCUS projects in both countries
- Increasing energy efficiency in buildings, industry, and transport
- Improving greenhouse gas data collection and management
- Promoting smart grids in the power sector.
Working closely with private sector and non-governmental stakeholders, the working group will develop implementation plans for the following initiatives by October 2013.
The climate agreements, which are not binding, do not concentrate on improving technologies or cutting emissions by specific volume but rather identifying broader, common goals.
World Resources Institute climate and energy program director Jennifer Morgan said the initiatives showed there was renewed momentum between the US and China on climate change.
“Bilateral efforts between these two countries are essential – and this collaboration can inject additional vigor in tackling climate change around the world,” she said.
Morgan said the initiatives might help build trust and enhance cooperation between the two countries.
“This is welcome leadership by Secretary Kerry and Councilor Jiechi, who have put climate change at the top of the international agenda,” she added.
“The benefits of joint action are clear. Now, we need them to follow up with actions that will drive down global emissions and take advantage of economic opportunities in a low-carbon future.”